What Is The Ivy League? How to get into Ivy League Universities

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The Ivy League also referred to as The Ancient Eight, is an American collegiate conference that consists of eight private research universities located in the Northeastern territory of the United States of America. 

But when the term Ivy League Universities is used, it is commonly referring to the eight schools that are a group of elite colleges and universities which are the embodiment of academic excellence, extremely selective with admissions, and have an aura of social superiority.

Ivy League Universities And Their Rankings

Ivy League universities are highly regarded and said to be the most coveted institutions for higher learning in the United States as well as all over the world.

Ivy League Universities have not only produced well-informed, excellent students and athletes but future presidents, Nobel winning personas and other high achieving individuals have also graduated from these prestigious universities.

Here is the list of Ivy League Universities and their rankings as well as where they are located:

S. NoIvy League University LocationRanking
1.Princeton UniversityPrinceton, New Jersey1st
2.Columbia UniversityNew York, New York2nd (tied with Harvard)
3.Harvard UniversityCambridge, Massachusetts2nd (tied with Columbia)
4.Yale UniversityNew Haven, Connecticut5th
5.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania8th
6.Dartmouth CollegeHanover, New Hampshire13th
7.Brown UniversityProvidence, Rhode Island14th
8.Cornell UniversityIthaca, New York17th

Why Go To An Ivy League University?

Since the 1960s, these Ivy League Universities and colleges have obtained an extensive reputation due to the fact that they churn out amazing graduates with high academic performances, the high esteem in society, not to mention bright, promising career futures ahead in their respective fields. 

Even today, these Ivy League Universities have maintained their reputation and status-quo, as well as having a large presence among the top-ranked universities in the United States of America, nay all over the world.

Apart from these Ivy League Universities, a few other universities enjoy the almost identical reputation and good social standing that they have such as Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Caltech, etc. But of course, they are a few notches down the ladder when compared to the Ivy League Universities.

When one begins the search for universities to obtain undergraduates and/or graduate degrees, Ivy League Universities are the first to attract attention for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, they have the best available resources laid at one’s disposal which attracts intelligent, smart, industrious, ambitious, and goal-oriented students. 

Secondly, it’s no classified information that these Ivy League Universities help and guide their students up the ladder in their professional careers. From the fields of Crime and Law to Medicine,  from Mechanical and Electrical Engineering to Business and Communication and many other different fields, these Ivy League Universities have a substantial amount of influence over these categories.

Having a degree from one of the prestigious Ivy League Universities gives you a leg up on other competitors in the field.

What Is The Number #1 Ivy League University?

As was mentioned in the table above, Princeton University ranks number one among the top Ivy League Universities in not just the United States but also around the world. 

Here is a brief introduction of this prestigious institution explaining why it is at the top. 

Princeton University ranks number one among the top Ivy League Universities
Princetone University Campus View

Princeton University was founded over more than 270 years ago and holds the rank of the 4th oldest university of the United States as well as being renowned for being the best research university, is there any doubt that it is the highest ranked Ivy League university?

Princeton University provides its students with top quality academic resources from specialized, well-stocked libraries to state-of-the-art, modern laboratories and even an art museum on campus. 

Princeton offers its students to major in a variety of fields, the most prominent of which are; social sciences, engineering, computer and information sciences and support services, biological and biomedical sciences, public administration, and social service professions. 

This Ivy League University provides its students with a four to one (4:1) student-faculty ratio that permits the students to take advantage of smaller class sizes as well as one on one time with the teacher for advice and suggestions for future careers decisions.

Princeton is also the Ivy League University that has one of the highest rates of four year graduations in the nation.

This Ivy League University is home to Rhodes scholars, prodigies, and high achieving graduates and has educated past Presidents of the United States, Supreme Court justices, Olympic medallist and even Nobel prize winners. 

How Much Do Ivy League Universities Cost?

There comes much prestige and opportunities while attending an Ivy League University. However, it is no secret that a college education is expensive and while these Ivy League Universities provide you with the best, first rate resources, they also are likely to be liable to be amongst the most expensive and pricey colleges and universities in the United States of America, with their tuition rates being an average between 55,000 USD to 60,000 USD per annum.

S. NoIvy League University2020-21 Tuition2020-21 Cost of Attendance with Fees
1.Harvard College$49,653$76,479
2.University of Pennsylvania$53,166$79,635
3.Princeton University$53,890$83.241
4.Dartmouth College$57,796$79.525
5.Cornell University$58,586$77,952
6.Brown University$61,671$80,448
7.Yale College$59,950$77,750
8.Columbia University$61,671$80,339
Ivy League Universities Cost Table

Ivy League Universities and Financial Aid

Although Ivy League Universities cost an arm and a leg, they also are very free handed in giving financial aid to students and one might have a chance to be able to graduate without accumulating any debt or getting burdened by student loans. 

The reason for their generosity with this financial aid is that they have a shared target to satisfy their criteria of inclusivity by making sure that payment of tuition fees does not become an obstacle for students wanting to attend these Ivy League Universities. 

Each Ivy League University has its own financial aid policy, which differs from the other. However, they all have exhibited that they, as institutions of higher education, have no expectation from their students to borrow or get student loans.

Instead, they magnanimously provide the students with scholarships and grants that do not have to be reimbursed back to the university. 

List of 8 Best Financial Aid Programs for Ivy League Universities:

1. Harvard University Financial Aid

About 55% of students who attend Harvard University are given scholarship aid, and 20% of the student population pays nothing to attend at all.

2. Yale College Financial Aid

Yale University campus view
Yale university campus view

This Ivy League University has no expectations from the students to get into debt for payment of tuition fees. Instead, financial aid packages are set up around scholarships, then there is the contribution of the parents and oftentimes the students themselves work to put themselves through college. 

3. Brown University Financial Aid

This Ivy League University like its brethren has zero expectations from students for loans and debt for tuition payments. 

The financial aid package available for students has a need-based aid which comes with zero strings attached and no reimbursement required.

In fact, Brown University’s financial aid package does not include loans for 100% of the students who qualify. In the recent class of 2024, 40% of the student population received financial aid for payment of tuition fees.

4. Cornell University Financial Aid

Unlike Brown University, this Ivy League University does include loans as part of the financial aid packages that can be availed by students, but it also does provide a guarantee that families that make under 60,000 USD will not be required to repay the loans. 

Cornell University is extremely generous with its grants, the average amount of grants reaching up to 76,997 USD in 2021. 

5. Princeton University Financial Aid

Princeton University is truly the prince of Ivy League Universities, with its average grant reaching up to 56,500 USD for the students of class 2023.

In the year 2019-20, 83% of the graduates of Princeton University left the campus debt-free.  

6. University of Pennsylvania Financial Aid

The University of Pennsylvania has an objective to cover 100% of tuition costs for attendance with grants, support from parents, and of course, contributions from the students themselves.

7. Columbia University Financial Aid

This prestigious Ivy League University issues more than $150 million in grants and scholarships per annum to 50% of the students that attend. The average amount of grant easily reaches upto 52,073 USD.

8. Dartmouth Financial Aid

This Ivy League University offers abundant financial aid for those students in need. According to its website, 100% of the students attending Dartmouth University have had their financial needs met. 

Moreover, Dartmouth has declared that the scholarship provided will cover 100% of the tuition fees, without any loans or debt for families that have an earning less than 10,000 USD per annum. 

Ivy League University and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) 

Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA for short, is the form or application that determines how much financial aid you can get from the government or most universities and colleges. 

It includes an Expected Family Contribution that is dependent upon the income of your family and other financial standards. The amount of EFC minus the cost of attendance is what decides whether one is eligible or not for need-based financial aid. 

The EFC has been a key factor that schools refer to when they start with the provision of financial aid. However, soon the EFC will be replaced by a Student AId Index from July 2023.

Ivy League Universities and colleges procure information about a student from his or her Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) so that they can evaluate the amount of financial aid required, which of course is based on the details provided on the FAFSA application—Social Security number, tax returns, and other records of money earned. 

Although there is now a shift being set into motion away from the EFC, since many Ivy League Universities have their own set of rules and regulations regarding parental financial aid, this shift may not matter much and might end up having no effect at all on those attending these Ivy League Universities.

From a pessimistic point of view, it may happen that unfortunately, the Ivy League University overestimates the amount that can be afforded by a student aiming to attend. In this case, the grants and scholarship aids that are provided might not cover 100% of the expenses and costs. Student loans could help cover the amount leftover, but when dealing with debts and loans it’s better to be cautious and not bite off more than one can chew.

How To Get Admission Into Ivy League Universities

Since Ivy League Universities are some of the top-ranked, most prestigious, and sought-after universities in the world, their application and admission process is extremely competitive. 

Ivy League Universities have an extensive selection of undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, and even Ph.D. programs. Hence there is no single answer, no magic potion, or an answer key to the question “How to get admission into Ivy League Universities”. All programs have a multitude of requirements that vary from field to field and different programs offered by the university.

Nevertheless, all the Ivy League Universities and Colleges have the same basic requirements.

List of documents needed to gain admission to an Ivy league University:

  1. Excellent Academic Transcripts for all classes from class 9 and upwards
  1. Exceptional Standardised Test Scores in GMAT/ GRE or ACT/SAT
  1. High scores in TOEFL/ IELTS as proof of proficiency in English language
  1. Recommendation Letters
  1. Impactful Essays
  1. Proof of Finance
  1. Valid Passport & Visa (For International Students)

One might also be called for an interview based upon the choice of Ivy League University that he or she made.

Factors to be considered before applying to Ivy League Universities

Down below is a list of a few factors that must be put into consideration before beginning the process of applications and admissions to Ivy League Universities;

  • A student should be in possession of outstanding transcripts and exceptional scores.
  • However, just academics would not suffice as Ivy League Universities look for gifted, exceptionally talented students who display prowess in other fields such as sports, arts etc., apart from academics.
  • Although these Ivy League Universities are well renowned for their academic distinction and calibre, one must see if they are suitable for their field of interest. 
  • Another very important aspect is finance. When compared to other reputed colleges and universities, Ivy League Universities are extremely pricey and may put one down in the debts.

Ivy League Universities and Colleges are some of the most highly regarded institutes of higher education. Graduates from these universities are coveted and always high in demand in their respective fields of services. 

Their degrees open up a whole world of opportunities for their careers, opening doors and leading them to the right circumstances for an amazing career.

Many students desire to study at these top Ivy League Universities even so few manage to make it through the trials of admission and that’s only the beginning. 

But in spite of that, if one feels that these Ivy League Universities are the best choice, then it’s always worth giving it the old college try.